Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 324,221 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.
This is an increase of 13,172 cases from the 311,049 infections reported on Wednesday.
The minister announced 216 new Covid-19 related deaths – a new 24-hour high, taking the total to 4,669 casualties, while he pointed to 165,591 recoveries to date.
A total of 2.32 million tests have been conducted, with 46,796 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.
As of today, the total number of confirmed #COVID19 cases is 324 221, the total number of deaths is 4 669 and the total number recoveries is 165 591 pic.twitter.com/cf5BzalpaG
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) July 16, 2020
Since 31 December 2019 and as of 16 July 2020, more than 13.74 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including approximately 587,000 deaths, and around 8.2 million recoveries.
The UK accused Russian state intelligence of hacking international pharmaceutical and academic research in a bid to win the race to secure a vaccine against Covid-19, Bloomberg reported.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted, declining to list the names and number of institutions affected on security grounds.
The UK named the group responsible for the hacking as APT29, saying it is “almost certainly” part of Russian state intelligence.
The group also goes by the name of Cozy Bear or The Dukes and has targeted UK, US and Canadian vaccine research and development organisations.
The campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property, according to the NCSC.
South Africa update
President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that saving lives during this pandemic is important as government is set to engage stakeholders in the education sector on the reopening schools.
Interacting with communities across the nation through a virtual Presidential Imbizo on Coronavirus on Wednesday, the president said government will in the next few days engage parents, student organisations, unions as well as other organisations, on the matter of reopening schools.
“Once this had been done, we are going to assess what we have heard and discuss it with the medical advisory committee… in the light of what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. I think we will come to a positive and inclusive decision,” he said.
The WHO recently warned against the reopening of schools while local transmissions of the Coronavirus are on the rise.
The president said the decision to open schools was an inclusive decision even though some might not agree with it.
“We are going to sit back and listen carefully to all the key role-players about the re-opening of schools. Losing an academic year cannot be weighed up against the lives of the people we must lose. If we have to get to a point of closing schools, that will be the decision,” President Ramaphosa said.
Sale of alcohol
The president also explained the decision to suspend the sale of alcohol.
“Out of the lived evidence that was given to us by our health workers and medical advisory committee, we realised the hospital beds were being utilised more by people who go to hospital with trauma cases that are alcohol induced,” he said.
The president also addressed the recent reports stating that approximately three million people in South Africa lost their jobs between February and April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are committed to focusing our efforts on the economic recovery. We’re working on a very direct economic process and in this we are working together with business, unions and economists in our country.
“Infrastructure is going to unleash a lot economic activities. We’ve got projects that are ready. We’ve also got projects on the public employment side.
“We will recalibrate the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to ensure we’ve got a much more robust public employment process,” he said.
Read: Health experts call for changes beyond the alcohol ban – including raising the legal drinking age and higher taxes